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A "klika" for peace

May 19, 2013

A "klika" for peace

May 19, 2013

Tshediso (Joe) Matake '15
Tshediso (Joe) Matake '15 (Photo by
Eric Jenks)

Tshediso Johannes (Joe) Matake ’15 of Johannesburg, South Africa, has received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant to support a computer literacy intervention program this summer in South Africa.

Matake’s project, titled “Klika” (Click) is the first technology or science-focused Davis Project for Peace implemented by a Skidmore student. The goal of the program is to promote peace and environmental sustainability through computer-literacy seminars. Inspired by his own experience growing up in a small township lacking technology and the ability to share and quickly access information, Matake’s program will collaborate with a rural primary school to develop a three-week computer literacy boot camp and a functional computer lab for the community.  Before leaving campus, he solicited and received help from the Skidmore community to locate used, functional computers for his project. In addition, he purchased a number of laptops for use by children in his project, as well as a printer, computer cables, and other essential equipment.

Matake’s goal is “to broaden the children’s minds about the world while equipping them with necessary skills for a brighter future.”

Davis Projects for Peace were launched in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday. This year more than  $1.20 million was awarded in $10,000 grants to students submitting the winning proposals for projects to be completed over the summer of 2013.

Davis, who died in April at her Florida home, was eager for motivated young people to come up with effective building blocks for peace-building in the world, and provided the funds over the past seven years to make their plans a reality. Projects that address conflict resolution and reconciliation, foster understanding, provide opportunity, and build community are among the many successful endeavors to date.

At the program’s inception, Davis said, “My many years have taught me that there will always be conflict. It’s part of human nature. But love, kindness and support are also part of human nature, and my challenge to these young people is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war.”

This month Matake is in South Africa to introduce the project and ask for the right of passage from village leaders and elders, and then introduce the project to the youth of the

Davis Peace school, South Africa
Ngwanamokwena Primary School

region. At the end of this month and through June, he will set up the classroom at the Ngwanamokwena Primary School and assess the children who will attend the camp. He will work with local educators to finalize a syllabus for the different age groups attending and work with the primary-school educators on a yearlong program that will follow the camp.

June and July will be devoted to the camp, which students will attend three times a week for two hours per session. At the end of the camp there will be a ceremony to recognize student participants and celebrate their accomplishment with the community.

Matake attended the American International School of Johannesburg. In his proposal he wrote, “In my junior and senior years of high school, I was part of a computer literacy boot camp and first realized the stark power of technology. In just three weeks children now had the power to change their lives and communities. My project specifically aims at providing children in rural areas the same opportunities as those living in urban areas.”

Since the start of the Davis Projects for Peace program, nine Skidmore projects have been funded in such areas as Sierra Leone, Nepal, China, Iraq, and Nicaragua. Matake’s is the 10th.

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